Sunshine At The Rose

Aug 22 2017 | By More

★★★☆☆  Showstopper overload

Gilded Balloon at Rose Theatre (Venue 76): Fri 18 – Fri 25 Aug 2017
Review by Hugh Simpson

Sunshine At The Rose, a collection of songs from musical theatre featuring some of Captivate’s most accomplished performers, is a spirited and melodic entertainment that shows you can have too much of a good thing.

Putting together one of these ‘songs from the shows’ entertainments is not as easy as it looks. Including The Song That Goes Like This from Spamalot is probably a mistake. It merely reminds you that the whole production is made up of Songs That Go Just Like This – the showstopping emotional numbers that start at a pitch of emotional hysteria and then build upwards.

Some of these numbers have a habit of always cropping up – I have lost count of the number of times I have seen Seize The Day on stage, but I am not aware of ever having seen Newsies, the musical it comes from.

Billed as a collection of ‘uplifting and rousing’ songs from musicals, it just shows you that you can be too uplifted and too roused. There is a disconcerting feeling that we are constantly in the last five minutes of Act One. When a ten-minute interval really arrives it is a necessary relief, as by that stage you feel like you have been hit across the head with a blancmange.

Shorn of context, moreover, some of the numbers come across oddly. Songs from Fiddler On The Roof, so different from most musicals, often stick out in isolation. Ireland, used to provide comic character in Legally Blonde, just seems weird on its own, especially when not even announced in the programme.

One Day More from Les Miserables is often used in such entertainments, but with its quoting from other songs in the musical and reliance on knowing who the characters are, it does not work nearly so well by itself.

drive and panache

That said, director/choreographer Tom Mullins and MD Tommie Travers have put together a show with drive and panache. The performers are as strong, tuneful and accomplished as you would expect from Captivate. Meg Laird-Drummond is particularly good at power and emotion while Sarah-Louise Donnelly acts through singing notably well.

Colum Findlay, Liam Forrester and Jack Pedersen have a charming stage presence, while Rae Mitchell, Anna MacLeod and Alison Castle do vulnerability particularly well.

Benjamin Collins has a knack for comedy, something also displayed by Rosie Graham and Mullins in that Spamalot duet.

All of them have considerable power and command of melody at their disposal. In a production already short on light and shade, some of the cast need to think more about the demands of the lyrics, rather than just belting out another number. This is not a problem with Malachi Reid, an accomplished comic performer who invests each of his numbers with real meaning.

There is also an issue with some of the chorus numbers. Ensemble singing is more difficult than it would appear; when you have twelve performers who each think they are singing the lead, the result can be less effective.

This may all seem harsh on a performance that, if a little overwhelming in its constant emoting, has a great deal to recommend it, and features a collection of performers of talent and promise.

Running time 1 hour 20 minutes including one interval
Gilded Balloon at Rose Theatre, 204 Rose Street, EH2 4AZ (venue 76)
Friday 18 – Friday 25 August 2017
Daily (not Sat 19, Sun 20) at 12 noon
Book tickets on the Fringe website:
Company website:
Facebook: @CaptivateTheatre
Twitter: @Captivate_LTD

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